Hydro gardening or Hydroponics is a subcategory of hydro culture. This is a method of gardening without using soil and just using the mineral nutrient solution that is combined with the water.
It’s like soaking the roots of your plant with nutrient filled water.
Foreign plants that don’t traditionally grow in a specific climate would be able to grow by using a controlled environment system like this. There are a lot of applications for this type of gardening. NASA has been looking into this type of gardening as a life support system for space travel.
Hydroponic crops are said to use up to 90% less water. Aside from using less water, they can grow twice as fast as a normal crop that is grown on the ground. This type of gardening doesn’t require much maintenance like pesticides or herbicides.
To start your own Hydro Garden, one must follow these basic steps:
Finding the Right Environment:
The key components will include relative humidity, temperature, CO2 and air circulation. Let’s quickly discuss what these mean.
- The ideal humidity for hydro gardening is between 40 – 60 percent. This is because some plants require higher humidity, but sometimes lead to problems like fungus or diseases.
- The ideal temperature is between 68 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- We all know that plants need CO2 to grow; with good air circulation a room will have an average of 300 – 400 PPM without CO2 supplements.
Water quality is very important if you want to grow any type of plant, regardless of which way you grow them.
- PPM or parts per million can be used to measure salts in a solution.
- One should start off with low PPM and add the nutrients specific to the plant that you are trying to grow.
- Using a reverse osmosis system can help you with lowering the PPM.
- pH or potential hydrogen is also an important factor to check.
- pH should range 5.8 – 6.2 in Hydro and 6.0 – 6.8 if you are using soil.
- This is important as pH can “lockout” some nutrients that your plant may need.
There are a lot of ways to make a hydro garden.
- Ebb and Flow gardens flood and drain a tray of plants with a nutrient solution at regular intervals.
- Drip gardens will provide a nutrient solution to each plant through tubes and emitters.
- Aeroponic gardens mist an oxygenated nutrient solution to each plant directly to the roots of its plants.
- NFT or nutrient film technique gardens flow a slow moving nutrient solution over the plant’s roots.
Choosing a Media
A growing media act as a root or an anchor system. Here are some media you can use:
- Coco is made up from the husks of a coconut; this media is pH stable and provides moisture retention and aeration.
- Expanded Clay Pebbles provide moisture retention and aeration. This is also reusable if cleaned and sterilized properly.
- Rockwool stone is heated and spun into fibers them compressed. This provides excellent oxygen to water ratio, the problem is regular flushing and conditioning is recommended.
- Silica helps slow transpiration; it provides moisture retention and aeration and can be reused if sterilized.
Another very important aspect of planting anything is the light it gets. Here are some guidelines:
- MH or metal halide and HPS or high pressure sodium are 2 of the most common types of lights used in grow rooms.
- MH Lamps = blue spectrum for vegetative
- HPS Lamps = orange/red spectrum for flowering.
- T5 Lamps are high output fluorescents with low heat consumption that is ideal for cuttings, mother plants, and short growth cycles.
- DE or double ended lighting is a full spectrum HID lamp with higher par reading than a single one.
- Plants in vegetative stage need 15 – 18 hours of light while plants in bloom state needs 10- 12 hours of light.
These are the basic guidelines when you want to start a hydro garden yourself. This should give you an idea of how to set up your very own hydro garden.
Hydro gardening will reduce pest problems; it will also constantly feed your plants the essential nutrients it needs. This means that if your aim is productivity, this is the perfect type of gardening for you.
Although the positive effects of a hydro garden outweigh the negative, it still has a few limitations. Plant growth can be limited by the low levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or limited light exposure.
Hope you learned something new today and enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day!